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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 27, 2010 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT

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the missouri river to explore the new territory, and the united states and spain hovered on the brink of an undeclared war over the exact location of the boundary between them. as humboldt spread out those maps of mexico, the keenest question on the minds of those three american heads of state was the location of that disputed border and the nature of the lands it did or did not include. three days after their first meeting, jefferson wrote humboldt urgently that the question is this: spain claims the land from the mississippi west along red river. we claim the land from the rio grande north. ..
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what was more his method than his instructions to future exploring expeditions would guarantee that never again would the united states government failed as it had with the lewis and clark expedition to leverage from them staggering amount of scientific information. in future letters jefferson would marvel at the timing to make countries known to the world and the moment they were about to become actors on the world stage. so there was just enough time
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after his visit with jefferson. he returned to philadelphia to paint a portrait. peale was gratified for the chance to prove that he could still pained at the college of physicians. the portrait shows a rosy cheek humboldt fresh from his travels to european fame, adulation and increasing care. when his friends learned of humboldt's skills as an artist they arranged his landscapes sketches. he left the united states certain that he was going to return here. he must have raised hopes that he would stay. many of his visitors ventured to gossip among themselves about his probable return to live among them. but as humboldt wrote to madison
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no matter how much he loved this beautiful land, i dare not lingering any longer. in a few years from the mississippi to the pacific, he promised he would return to venture through the upper midwest. as far north as alaska. he repeated his promise, whenever i think of seeing you again i get a deep longing for roaming over the western territories. a plan for which mr. jefferson would be just the right man to aid me. his dream of a large project to the far west must wait for a couple years until he published his current material. that job delayed him 30 years. he had other reasons for wanting to return to the united states. his friends were proclaiming the united states the future of your
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arts and sciences. in his farewell level, not just a plan for exploration but the moral imperative embodied by the united states which had offered him the consoling experience of witnessing true social project whereas europe presents an immoral and melancholy spectacle. not that humboldt was unaware of problems in america, he reminded his washington hosts of the abominable law permitting the importation of negro slaves to the carolinas. the laws of humanity dictated the united states abolish slavery and act that would cost little more than a dip in exports. humboldt was good at making such mercantile calculations but they always enraged in, quote, how he
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detested this politics that measures and evaluates the public good simply according to the value of exports. a nation's wealth is just like an individual's. only the accessory to our happiness. before being free we must be just and without justice there can be no lasting prosperity. whether he intended them to or not, these two rules open america to empire. henry adams located the loss of american innocence not to the civil war but the years between 1800-1815. by the end of which the rights of man occupied public less and price of common more. in 1804 he hoped america had its priorities right for recognizing the rights of man would cost little more than a dip in cotton exports.
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he apologize to jefferson for telling the world u.s. congress and jefferson himself lacked the power to abolish slavery. but slavery was not abolished. auld too soon he discovered his first guess was the right one. given the choice between cotton and humanity the power of the people had chosen cotton. your lay, he thought, weakness of democracy. it leaned toward the radical wing of liberalism that would lead some of his followers into socialism which sought to the intervention of a progressive state to protect the freedoms of the oppressed. 7 humboldt's ideals played into a different history than the one he had foreseen, be split in scientific followers reflected on the wider stage of american history. those who celebrated his name tended to be northern whigs who
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favor economic diverse suffocation, strong central government and social reform, protested the mexican war and the find themselves against the anti indian politics of the jackson democrats and yet they also seized on his furies and methods interpreting a global egalitarian cosmopolitanism through a nationalist and racist lens. this is the paradox in the way he was translated and adopted into the united states in much of my book trying to understand. as america expanded and americans across the spectrum used his name for the community they were founding german immigrants named new towns from pennsylvania to california, texas to and saskatchewan. free state immigrants coveted their anti slavery politics by
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naming their town humboldt. john charles fremont who ran for president on an abolitionist platform and claimed the far west repaid his distant hero by giving his name to the great basin watershed. had it gone a bit differently, the center of american gambling culture would have been not nevada but the great state of humble. auld this to indicate the kind of cult status he was reaching in the united states that really peaked in the 1850s and his own doubts as he lived through those years with dozens and dozens of americans at various levels, politics and intellectuals, artists and his dismay that the
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continuation of institute slavery as the basis of its economy. the story has not been told which is humboldt's in poland. his question as he watched the lack of progress in the united states in his lifetime was what would be the nature of his legacy and for that high turn to cosmo's, last book he published which was a raging success in the united states. by 1845, fast forwarding a generation, humboldt was known as an explorer and recorder of exotic american tropics and the
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author of this particular diagram showing plants, founding documents and plant geography. it had been nearly 20 years since a major new work by humboldt appeared in english and then everything changed. i put this in to show the spread, many derivatives, illustrations that started to create a new language for thinking about global patterns in nature, the foundation of ecology in this kind of thinking. book reviews flooded the market. competing translations of his various writings, major new works started to appeared capped by a biography and images like this one, the grand old man who
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is mountainous himself and his signature mountain behind him. my interest is in the cultural work that cosmo's did for america and i want to say it is often assumed this teenager was regarded as an escape from the perils of politics and social conflict to his own freedom where those conflicts would ultimately be resolved into harmony. humboldt fought exploration and an understanding of nature was not an escape but a way of studying the human mind and human society from a position of freedom that nature in scribe freedom -- i will let you hear it in his words. the study of nature would
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project past, present and future together enabling us to direct forever the laws the personal undertaking these researches as we prepare for intellectual unite. moral freedom that strengthens us against blows of destiny which no external power could possibly destroy. the study of major bond the human community and gives us the strength to resist the social pathology that would terrace apart. moral freedom was written into the very fabric of nature and encourage americans who were busy inventing themselves as nature's nation to think of themselves as the privileged inheritors of nature's sublime power and beauty which they almost universally cast into religious terms in the united states. this was meant to -- providential national destiny
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prophetic vision and we will see that in just a moment with paintings but before we look at those, i want to say a little bit about what cosmos was. this is from frederick church, one of the painters inspired by humboldt. his painting--a detail from his painting the heart of the andes which he sent to berlin to show him and it reached berlin just after humboldt died so he was not able to see it. i am using this to illustrate the impact of cosmos. he reintroduced this into the modern mexican in an attempt to give us a new way to think about nature. he took five holes volumes of writing to define it. i can't give all of the
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different dimensions this morning but in introducing the concept, he called it a harmonious lee ordered whole, harmonious and order and the detail, so beautifully in church's work, they were looking at the tail and here is the larger work. our relationship to that order of nature. as humboldt -- as cosmos signifies the order and adornment of this universal order, herein lies his distinctive use of the word which we tend to day to think as
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designating the stars and for humboldt it is not the stars but the entire physical universe. he is thinking of the earth as a planet from the perspective of the heavens. the are two aspects of the cause lows. there is order and adornments, beauty. order speaks to the observed facts of the physical universe quite independent of us. it exhibits regularities and pattern that we identify as scientific laws but beauty, adornment is perceptible in the mind of the be holder and this is the double side of cosmos. the physical universe exists quite apart from us but that is not the complete story. it exists as both ordered and beautiful through the human mind.
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humboldt's cosmos is developmental and it emerges as human conceptions of nature and the depth of human feeling about nature deepen. as a narrative cosmos is being written that is why the book would never be finished. it is a picture, a painting that comes into being as we paint it and as we view it. taking the word in its broadest sense to include science and technology, exploration, literature, gardening, the painting of landscapes, there may be a perfectly fine universe but there will ever be a cause lows. kosmos. if there is anything to the first volume of cosmos it is as carl sagan would tell was a hundred years later that we are star stuff.
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in the mind's i, humboldt saw her through as sagan's generation learned to see it. a blue globe all live, and astonishment in the black abyss of space. to see that globe is to see ourselves reflected back into the abyss and know that somehow on that planet, star stuff centered itself, further condensing until it went super nova and learned how to look back to see not just the universe but itself seeing. what emerson called the half site of science,ñi onlyç the physical world. but he wanted science to open both eyes to see itself seeing. that was his genius and the bold goal of the second volume of cosmos which stephen jay gould called an astonishing for
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divorce that reads with as much beauty and relevance as it did in the 1850s or even more i would venture. we have traveled another 150 years down that road except as we are finally realizing, we are breaking our blue planet, renting a par the harmonies that a humboldt halt in a dark time. without all there will always be a universal. birds will sing, planets will cycle and the clouds will go on. nevertheless in their direction, once we have broken our world there may never again be a cause lows. kosmos. at the beginning of the civil war frederick church painted eruption. a violent and brooding image of foreboding.
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before the lord volcano opens a chasm that splits the land in two. many suggest the allegorical import for america at the time of the civil war especially when it is paired with rainy season in the tropics and this is on the cover of my book. painted just after the civil war ended. an allegory without doubt of god healing the planet with a rainbow yet i wonder. when politics got to be too much, when everything was slipping backward, he looked for redemption and hope to the deep harmonies of the cosmos. this seemed to make sense in and read david thoreau's day but does it today? we in the twenty-first century look to the cosmos we see a major not an impaired but melting away into rising seas and mass extinctions. if humboldt's nature was harmonious ours is chaotic, and
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predictable and even terrifying. the best climate scientists in the world were caught off-guard by the accelerating loss in the greenland ice cap and a sudden in opening of polar seas. what have we done? humboldt -- losing humboldt cost as the cosmos. must it cost us the planet as well. in the spirit of hope by end not with nature but with art. there again in humboldt -- i am sorry. there again in church's rainbow is humboldt's bridge arcing over the symbol of peace and newton's science. it was newton who on one of the mystery of the rainbow by showing its scientific cause in the prisons of raindrops. on both? hardly, answers church. carefully constructed according to the latest optical science at down to the canvas of the compass church's rainbow is yet
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stunningly beautiful. in the original painting it leaks off of the canvas and lights up the gallery. perceptual track, and optical illusion, rainbows are phenomena of presumption. they come into being only as part of a% to will triangle. light through pigment. or mind through body to the phenomenal, resurface which bespeaks its depths. the viewer of this painting rests at mid level not too high but just high enough. rain and light and chasm. the village and in the valley beyond. the passing travelers, leading pack mules. you barely see them in the corner. a bolt of concentric energy. they have cause to read tie
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saddlebags and their voices echo across the chasm as the beat of a wrinkle years. painting of passage. travellers crossing a path. rain passing. time passing. one blink and it will be gone. the light faded. travelers vanished around the corner. the viewer is in passage too gazing through the curtain of rain to the rock face beyond but it is the road that pulls us in. down into the valley of the human community. looking ahead to the city where we might well. shall i admit that when i first saw this painting i fought back tears. why? for julie in its sheer beauty and in the skill of the artist. joy that such things, beauty
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after heralding storms. my teachers were not trivial, not embarrassing but part of this painting. part of the cosmos as is every moment. i could respond but i know better. this is a christian allegory. this is an ideological pull. this is an aesthetic machine. this one time i choose not to for i am free to say just this once this is cosmos in all its enchantment and fragility. the facts before me give me this freedom of feeling. wind splitting the cloud the part, rain glanced by a sunbeam and optically exact rainbow
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arching over a geographically precise mountainside faced by botanically correct calls. a road too slick to be trusted. a mule twitching his years forward and back. a rain hazed village below journey's end as this moment too passes. only now i am no longer alone but embraced by a community. the community of cosmo's. one subject to be standing in a gallery. one raindrop prison of consciousness. in a recent essay my colleague suggested to professors and scholars like myself that it is our human obligation through our professional rituals to give of police to the dead. to lift from them the gag order that comes with mortality.
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their failures are our own and by embracing these failures we embrace the unfinished task of the dead allowing them to come back as noisy goats beyond the grave. our very weaknesses give them a hearing and acknowledge that authorship is too large to be borne by any one person. it must be borne in the deep field of time by the longitude and latitude of mankind and in the full duration of recorded history. few of our dead have been so completely silent as alexander humble -- humboldt 11 and none deserves to be heard more than he. perhaps the frequency of his texts amplified across time will resonate with the wavelengths of today. he saw the shape of a new world
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emerging although he was afraid that world was stillborn. abandoning him to defeat and hopefully to some future renaissance. it is our obligation to let him come back and make noise in our as fedex and politics and ethics and science and to acknowledge his failures and acknowledge in them our own as the sequel if there is to be one is up to us. that is it. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much for a wonderful talked. we have time to take some questions which we will in just a moment. i can 3-peat them if there are
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no microphones. i don't know if they have them but i will ask the first one. in your book you talk about recent writings of edward casey and his take on a landscape painting that extends with the things we mentioned and he talks about landscape and cartography extending further into something more beyond that. i wonder if you could expand a bit on that. >> you didn't tell me this question in advance. that is a really large question and what i liked, representation has a bad name in literary intellectuals studies. i have done some work to go beyond representation and you look at a painting like this ob
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representational and casey's work is a way to think of ways to make something present to us which is in line with the theme i ended with which is how do we make figures from the past that we may not know very well and may seem strange or alien to us, how do we make them present to us now temporarily as far as how the we make distant places present to us and experience to involved and engaged us and so maps and do that. they aren't just representation that lie passively on the paper but they invite you in to travel the roads and half way as they present to us and so make us present to that temporal moment. in that sense this is very much in line with his own mapping.
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how far back do i have to go? something like this for instance. one feature of humboldt's maps. notice the little text bars. that is typical of humboldt and their experiences and comments that give a kind of narrative to the map and extend that representation of it and when you go to topographical features he wants to drill in and help you to see what the ground is, the typography and to experience it. not just see it lying passively. this is my favorite plate from this volume. to feel a little busy as you look at that, and you see the little oxcart across the upper
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ridge to feel that sense of peril and you might fall off. it is the dangerous crossing. that emotional engagement, this is wrapped around cartography and landscape so it is not just about conquest of the place or the object but an involvement, an emotional and intellectual involvement in making that -- i am not sure that is the direction but it is a start anyway. i think i will start back here. >> your interest got started with your study of henry david thoreau and r m wondering what you felt humboldt brought to him. i know he was looking for laws in nature but i wonder what else
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you thought -- >> what i saw that struck me most forcibly then is the fundamental fact of humboldt pursuing science not in a laboratory or in an abstract top down deductive way. humboldt was very impatient with people. i didn't read that passage but that was one of his bold. there was the canal that linked the amazon river systems and how could there be a canal that links two water basins? european scientists declared that can't exist. so it is a legend. yet reports persisted that it did exist so humboldt traveled that can now to verify and that was the method he pursued.
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don't talk about it in a paris salon. go and look. it is a very empirical ground-based get your feet wet and you want to know about a volcano you have to walk down into the crater and smelled the stench of the sulfur and feel the burning walks -- rocks. very experiential knowledge and yet pursued partly in spirit of poetry but also measuring and trying to link the phenomenon you are examining with other phenomena in your experience or other people's experience so that you are constantly making comparisons. i use the explorer to measure and connect. that is what you see henry david thoreau doing. he casts himself as a world
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explorer and he says i am home. i will do the humboldt 11e n exploration right here and as the explorer sees but without leaving home. without leaving home and collecting objects, henry david for a collect arrowheads and plants and so on, measuring again, he was famously out measuring a stream and counting tree rings and systematic work and to the goal of connecting so it is a distinct methodology. this is humboldtian science and the cutting edge of science and it had particularly powerful play in the united states where
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exploration, that was what we needed to be doing and he gave that methodology. so henry david thoreau applies that to this home base in an exciting and original way. >> could you go back to the world map for a minute? the world map. i missed what this world map is subject -- was the subject of this map -- >> this is plant geography. the mountains across the top, humboldt wrote in the essay on geography of plants that has never been fully translated into
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english but the university of chicago is publishing an absolutely stunning lead beautiful book that will give us in english the first good translation of this foundational work to plant geography but even more to ecology. this is foundational in many respects. go back. this is from that work. you can see -- it is washed out because of the light but the mountain is presented. the point is to show how certain plants grow in the topics and it is almost like moving to the taboret zone. up a little higher and in the alpine area you're moving towards arctic and end with ice. the globe itself is compressed in a vertical elevation. that was generalized by humboldt
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and other scientists in to the geography of plants so you see lots of mountains. the point is they are following the same pattern and this world map is showings and basically e plant ecology in the way plants cluster in characteristic communities in patterns around the world. all of that again presented visually in a very compact way but to actually talk about all this stuff in a detailed way would take many volumes. >> a comment and a question. it is a great irony that in post renaissance europe when england, france and germany looked with scorn at what was going on in
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spain that spain was the country whose crown sponsored the important expeditions, exploratory and scientific. the question has to do with the extent to which humboldt utilized the work of clubapara in spain. the creole jazz a wet just as jefferson was a creole in the new world of european parents. is booked the history of mexico came out two years before jefferson's note on the state of virginia. jefferson phrased it and i wonder to what extent humboldt used what was said about the native culture in spain before going there on his own. >> i can't answer that
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specifically. i keep saying as a u.s. american scholar i am often out of my comfort zone in this kind of work but one of the exciting things is it opens up so many doorways into new research. that particular doorway, i recognized the name. humboldt spend a year in mexico and much of that time was in libraries and archives trying to collate all of the works of the spanish explorers and riders he could find in order to bring that knowledge to the rest of europe and to understand for his own purposes as well. he spent a lot of time in south america and mexico talking with, making friends with creels scientists and one of the interesting aspects of that is
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if you look at the top diagrams, that is a figure or derivation of that were used in the andes. creels scientists in the andes were drawing diagrams like this well before humboldt. the notion that he came and is mixing with new world scientists, learning from them, they were pursuing and pushing frontiers of knowledge considerably further than the europeans were so they learn from the new world scientists and bring back a lot of their innovative thinking into the european realm. one big question in humboldt's studies, didn't he get most of this? the -- he pulled up everything but the amazing quality to synthesize.
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into powerful new forms. my hunch is you would find this work represented quite well and he argues constantly with his sources and praises them. you won't just fine the neutral use of it. he probably has an opinion and he will tell you his opinion. i would look in a political essay on the kingdom of new spain which was translated and humboldt spent copies to jefferson. there was a long segment i reluctantly had to leave out on the humboldt/jefferson correspondence but you have to have the teaser. so by the book. there was an active correspondence until jefferson's death and the two are exchanging ideas and fears about america and the new world. that is the best example
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certainly in this campus of humboldt working with a creole new world person and shared collaborative intellectual adventure. other questions? got a little time. >> there was going to be a book signing. >> so we need to leave time for that. >> don't want to cut any one of. one more i think. >> the geography book that you mentioned that is coming out from the university of chicago. >> university of chicago. >> when is that available? >> march of 2010. copies could be shipped even as i speak. >> it is a beautiful book open
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up amazon. it should be right there. a brand new translation with all the wonderful paraphernalia and fold out dan graham's. an essay on the geography of plants. will that have to do it? i suppose so. i saw one hand. >> does humboldt correspond with meriwether lewis? >> not to my knowledge. very little of his correspondence survives. very -- he burned nearly everything he got because napoleon spies were going through his possessions.
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rather than have them coming -- there's no correspondence between him and meriwether lewis but i don't know of any. you have been a wonderful audience. [applause] >> the virginia festival of the book is held every week in charlottesville and that is where we are covering several panels and several authors. we are outside city hall. three presidents are represented here. thomas jefferson and james monroe. the next panel is women and war. there two authors on this panel. win jamie comes marching home and office there, owners, woman.
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army nurse corps in the vietnam war. >> i'm excited to be moderating this panel. wars change things. traditions and boundaries and people's lives and we have been at war continuously for the longest period in our history as a country. not many people are working on figuring out how that is affecting us as a nation or how historically affected us, and in the present and what they're learning is important to all of us. i got interested in this general topic in 2007 when one of our speakers with good reason, the project, she has a new book out with the photos from that project. photography and oral history and she did some writing associated with that. i got to work on editing the
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oral history with what she did in the virginia quarterly review. she teaches at virginia commonwealth university and is the author of her best shot, women and guns in america and is the author of ethnic impersonators and american identities. it is going to be absolutely fascinating. our other speaker is karen dixon buick. she is a professor of history in virginia and is continuing to explore this topic working on a project about women who entertains soldiers throughout the last century and we are going to ask her to present first. we will have time for both of our authors to present. they will talk for a little bit and we will have time for your
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questions. there will be an opportunity to buy a book or two to talk to them as well. will you start? [talking over each other] >> i changed it up. >> thank you for coming. really glad to be here. how we came to the topic and the book itself that i will read to you a story. i will tell you a little bit about the book and a couple examples that really illustrate the things i deal with in the book. i am a women's historian and i am interested in women's experiences in and with the military. i am interested in women's experiences but also broader
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social and cultural changes have shaped the way the military used women. i am interested in women's experiences and policy. when i was an undergraduate interested in the vietnam war and they go very well together, look at nurses and so what i was interested in was all of the changes in the 1960s. you have the liberation movement and the pill and more women working and more wives working and did all of this shaped the way the military used women in the vietnam war or the way the military recruited women or use women in the war because historically one of the few options to women which is quite different from today was nursing in the military. by the 60s a lot had changed in the military. a lot had changed in terms of
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nursing but there were many people in the army in the 1960s who believed nurses were to be the modern florence nightingale. supposed to be chased, self sacrificing, supposed to be patriotic volunteering woman. in the 1960s in the midst of all these changes was that still true? and was that what women wanted and what men wanted the word turning the joining the nehr score for the first time? i found a lot of conflict about how to use women and men and commemorate this work. it brings all these issues together. how the army was changing. how nursing was changing and how gender was changing in the 60s.
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it is the story of 5,000 army nurses is served in vietnam and the broader social cultural changes. the story of the women's movement in the military, an expected changes in some cases and it is a story about how conservative institutions deal with change and to illustrate that i will tell you two stories that bring together these issues. the first was about the chief of the army nurse corps in 1967 at the height of the war and on june 11th the army promoted her to the rank of brigadier general and she became the first female general in the history of the military. in terms of women's involvement in the military that is something women had wanted for quite some time particularly since the end of world war 2 since women made this an issue to push the army to open all links to women instead of
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limiting them to particular ranks. 1967, president johnson open all ranks to women and promoted general hays to general. it was a profound event in terms of women's history and one that shaped women's involvement even today. it was a profound event in terms of women's lives. if the military can promote women to general why can't other professions open their doors? profound event in many ways but one army hadn't yet processed or wasn't quite comfortable with just yet. at the promotion ceremony at the pentagon, she came up for promotion and general westmoreland pinned stars on her shoulders and then announce to the media i hereby established a new protocol for congratulating lady generals and instead of saluting her he kissed her.
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the media when wild.çmy understandably. newspapers went crazy with the story. one called it the heretofore unthinkable account of one general kissing another. several talked about how the men in the crowd loved it and thought it was completely fine and even the press leading up to this had talked about what clothes she wore and where she felt her hair and what size -- this would not get printed today. could she clean house, could she quote, was all domestic and traditionally feminine things to balance this profound event. the second event is the story of how the vietnam women's memorial in d.c. came to be built and in the years after the war in the 1980s nurse veterans got together and started to raise money to build the memorial. the movement was spearheaded by
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carlton evans and for a decade these women raised money, lots and lots of money. federal agencies and had to gain the approval of two separate presidents to have this memorial built. when the women's memorial was dedicated in 1993 it was the first memorial on the nation's mall to women. that is also a profound event. is not just entering women in to serve our discussions about the vietnam war but a memorial to women, the first one on the mall. profound event but as i learned in terms of in her experience in gaining support for the memorial, that came at the cost of casting women's roles in the war in a particular light. the women's foundation was lobbying congress to pass a law that would direct that the memorial be built and that is
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how they get built. it is congressional. she went to the vfw because it was crucial for the women to have the support of a major veterans' organization. so she went to the convention and said we were in the army, we were nurse is, we were in the navy, these women doing these things. we would like your support for the memorial and they voted it down. they said if we give a memorial to women everyone will want one. she begged her way onto the program the next day. she tried different approach. she went before the crowd and said when i was in vietnam's someone died in my arms. i want his father and mother to know that i am here for them and she laughed and they voted to approve the memorial. what mattered was not what women
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had done or what barriers, what mattered was they held the nation's dying son's. there are stories of actual women's lives that illustrate these contradictions about what this really means. i hope to share those with you. in general this is a time of great conviction and a lot of indications they're not with yet. we are going backward and figuring this out. and the nursing profession, and thank you. >> my project i have to say got
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tons of support for the humanities and without that support, associated with it, i wanted to start with all that wonderful support. this is a project that grew out of her best shot which is a cultural history of women and guns in america. when i was working on the book unnoticed there was a real fred running throughout american history from revolutionary war onward, women in combat being controversial. you have politicians like james burke saying the only thing that distinguishes a citizen from a slave is the ability to bear arms in support of one's nation in a time of war and 200 years later with the equal rights amendment was defeated was
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largely because americans could not swallow the idea of women in combat. even as politicians were using this as a way of denying women full rights of citizenship there were plenty of pop culture representations of female soldiers weather in the early nineteenth century when you had trashy novels, pulp fiction about women who ran away to join their lovers and were discovered when they became pregnant all the way through cartoons in world war ii vet depicted sex starved maniacs who joined the military as a way of getting close to soldiers. and by the 80s and 90s you had images like g. gordon liddy stacked featuring women in bikinis holding assault rifles. but these were clearly not real
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female soldiers and there has been a ban on women in combat that exists to this day but we are now involved in two wars, 220,000 women have served in combat. and with the illustration of how dramatic that is there are 7500 women who serve in the nursing corps. this is a radical shift. we entered a new era in which women are fighting or dying for their country. 100 women in iraq and afghanistan in surrounding regions. we are at a watershed moment and this was brought up in 2006, a big editorial piece about why the american public doesn't care that women are dying in war.
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everyone expected there would be a big backlash against this and there wasn't. i got interested in this topic and i set out to write an op-ed piece. i was working on it when i went to pick up my daughter when she had gone for a play date they had been best friends since kindergarten. cf1 ogarten. articleç about women serving i iraq and afghanistan. that was an interesting idea and i mentioned it to the curator at the arts center and why not work on an exhibit? i was really intrigued by the idea of an exhibit. photographs of women who serve in wartime.
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i love the idea of bringing peace activists, in the same space to view these images and read these narratives. interestingly enough when i first proposed this to the virginia foundation people loved the idea but they wanted me before they gave me a grant to sign a statement that this was not an anti-war project. people in the military never thought of it as an anti-war project and 1 officer suggested it could be great recruiting tool. so i thought it would be interesting to work on a project that had this resonance for both sides. so we set out to interview and photograph 52 women from all branches of the military service to talk about their lives and military careers and i was in for some surprises.


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